When Art Meets History: Transform the Concept of “Freedom” through Multiple Lenses
Last Thursday, October 15th, three staff members of National Underground Railroad Freedom Center– Jamie Glavic, Director of Marketing and Communications, Assia Johnson, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, and Susan Redman-Rengstorf, Vice President of Institutional Advancement paid a visit to The King Arts Complex out of their busy schedule for the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Assistant Executive Director Mark Cardwell had a great conversation with our friends from Cincinnati. Though he had introduced many organizations King Arts Complex’s uniqueness for the community through tours, taking this group to experience the arts and culture King Arts Complex preserves, presents and produces inspired priceless resonance from the Freedom Center’s side—our overlapped missions allow us to exchange ideas about how to spread the value of freedom in contemporary society. As the tour expanded to the most interactive reflecting the miserable slavery life African Americans’ ancestors, our guests were so excited to recall a similar installation at Freedom Center in purpose of preserving the history our predecessors lived in and fought against for freedom.
Whether we are talking about human rights in the U.S. or around the globe, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is an unparalleled landmark in the history of the war for freedom. The current exhibition “50 years later…The Voting Rights Act” absorbed all the attention from the three staff members of Freedom Center. Drawn from their personal experience, and the mission of Freedom Center, they were amazed by the transformative effects of arts in stimulating meaningful reflections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 among viewers. Additionally, they left comments about the difficulty in advocating for the importance of voting rights and freedom in contemporary society, based on their daily encounters with people from across the world. “Art is so powerful and symbolic.” Said Susan Redman-Rengstorf, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, from a historian’s point of view. “I think the trouble is so many young people and mid-adults, who’ve been so pressed and discriminated against, either give up on the power of voting or they don’t understand how important it is.” By having this commemoration through artistic expressions and getting young people together, we help them to keep alive the history of how hard we’ve fought and are still fighting for the freedom to vote.
The group kept on their tours to the Historical Pythian Theater on the other side of King Arts Complex building, and was amazed by the rich history behind this old venue—holding the community for countless movies, jazz concerts and theatre performances since 1925. A half an hour board room conversation ended the tour as both sides are so willing to share the strategies to overcome the obstacles encountered in disseminating the valuable concepts we stand for. Consensus were made between them that arts and history are two inseparable expression channels to engage our audience with the significance of freedom. Via the more interactive and emotionally intimate mediums, arts penetrates the value of certain history that contributed to the privileges we enjoy today; in return, history adds more depth to the art works through its strong connections with the society’s past, present and future. That is how art and history transform our life, our thoughts and behaviors.
Sharing similar missions and visions, The King Arts Complex and National Underground Railroad are so pleased to discuss future collaboration and partnership opportunities. New partnership is expected to come soon!